"Preach the Gospel to ALL Creation!" Says Jesus. Joyce D’Silva D.Litt. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen
Christianity has differing perspectives, with some seeing animals as put there by God for our use and humans always at the apex of creation. Even Luther wrote “The beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven were created for mankind: these are the wealth and possessions of men” (Luther’s works 1.58-9). But, of course, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful” and that surely extends to mercy for all beings. Some Christian teachers see the incarnation of Jesus as being “as a metaphysical union with nature as a whole” and Jesus told his disciples to “preach the gospel to all creation”, not just to humanity!
Whoever Insults Animals Insults God!
Christianity does seem to hold very differing views, from the idea that “animals are here for us to use” to the examples of people like St Francis, who truly saw them as fellow-beings or John Wesley who believed they would share in the resurrection or William Wilberforce, who campaigned not just against slavery but for the welfare of animals and who helped establish the RSPCA. More recently the Lutheran theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, has written “Whoever injures the dignity of animals, injures God”.
How can Christians Improve their Engagement with Animal Issues?
Rev David Clough says it is urgent “for Christians to reclaim the connection between concern for animals and Christian faith”. He calls for Christians to reduce their consumption of animal products and only buy such products if they know the animals have led a life that allowed them to “flourish”. He is echoed by the Rev Fletcher Harper, founder of GreenFaith, who says reduce your consumption of meat “or go vegetarian or vegan”.
Pope Francis has called, in his revolutionary encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015), for an ecological conversion and for “showing care for other living beings”.
So, Christians can take action in their personal lives regarding food and products like cosmetics and household cleaners etc, which are often tested on animals. They can join animal welfare organisations and become active campaigners too, or at least spread the word in their own churches and amongst their family, friends and colleagues.
Unite Under "Compassion for Animals"
People can come together to campaign for an end to cruel factory farming systems, or cosmetic experiments or cruel sports. They can unite under a “Compassion for animals” banner.
A Challenge Issued to Faith Leaders regarding Animal Concerns
Please research the teaching of your own faith on our relationship with animals and then please speak about it, preach and write about it. Be the Wilberforce or Gandhi of today! Get together and form an Action Plan for Animal Wellbeing. Please set an example for your followers in living a life of compassion for all beings.
Joyce D’Silva D.Litt is Ambassador Emeritus and former Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming. For more information about her work visit the CIWF website.
Joyce’s book Animal Welfare in World Religion: Teaching and Practice is published by Routledge. Routledge are offering a 20% discount off the paperback with the code ESA31 which is available until the 30th June.